This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Florist's Lush Inner City Garden

Gardens

Florist Sean Cook, of Mr Cook, has lived a long love affair with plants!

Only two years ago, Sean’s Sydney garden was a trashed construction site. Transformed by famed landscape designer Richard Unsworth, today we tour the lush oasis!

7th May, 2018

Sean  Cook didn’t want flowers in his garden, he wanted texture and lots of green. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Sean loves pots! Most of these pots are either from Garden Life or sourced from Sean in his travels. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

The zig zag cactus (Selenicereus chrysocardium) creates a dramatic effect draping down concrete retaining walls and contrasting with the upright foliage of mother-in-laws tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) behind. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Sean Cook and Michael Bright’s inner city Sydney garden connects seamlessly to the house. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Florist Sean Cook in the garden with Oskar and Hooper. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Bluestone steppers planted with native violet (Viola hederaceae) and kidney weed (Dichondra repens) provide a simple foil for abundant greenery. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Sean stumbled across this striking cactus (Cereus peruvianus ‘Monstrose’) whilst on a buying trip for a floristry job. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Plectranthus (Plectranthus ciliatus cvs.). Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Georgina Reid
Monday 7th May 2018

‘It’s all a bit wild, and crazy and generous.’ – Sean Cook.

‘Plants and flowers are my medium. I love their colours, textures and form,’ says florist Sean Cook. We’re sitting in the living room of his Redfern home, embraced by bright white walls dripping with art. It’s a colourful and exuberant space, and whilst the art is incredible, the garden is where my eyes settle. It’s one big, green, artwork.

Sean and his partner Matthew Bright bought the property around five years ago. They soon undertook a major renovation on the house, and one day, upon arriving on site to check on the construction progress, they realised what had existed of the previous garden was completely trashed. ‘We decided then and there that we needed to do it properly and start right away, whilst the construction was going on. I have known landscape designer Richard Unsworth of Garden Life for a long time, and at that time his shop was just around the corner. ‘I called him and said, “Richard come down and help!”‘

‘Our brief to Richard was to keep it very loose and natural. We wanted stairs leading out from the house and I wanted a mirror on the back wall and a fishpond.’ Unlike the multi-coloured nature of the house interior, Sean wanted a monotonal garden. ‘I wanted an all green garden. There’s lots of colour in the house and I wanted the garden to counterbalance its exuberance. Also, I love green. Green and pink are my two favourite colours.’

Sean came to plants via school holiday visits to his grandmother in Parkes, in central western NSW. ‘She had a fernery attached to her house and it was such a magical place. There were native orchids and ferns and hoyas, and a pond filled with tadpoles. I suppose that’s where my love affair with plants and gardening started,’ he says.

Picking flowers from the backyard of his childhood home in Strathfield for his primary school teachers was the next step in Sean’s plant evolution. ‘I used to make bouquets for my teachers from our garden. What a crawler I was! I stopped giving my teachers flowers in high school, though. I couldn’t wait to leave.’

It’s inevitable, then, that Sean ended up as a florist. After working in visual merchandising and events, he cut his floral teeth with Saska Havekes of Grandiflora for 14 years, before starting his own business, Mr Cook, seven years ago. He tells me he loves the theatre of creating big installations, and the beauty and exuberance flowers and plants can bring to a space.

His garden, whilst relatively flower free, has a similar sense of energy and drama. ‘It’s all a bit wild, and crazy and generous,’ he says. He loves collecting pots and plants in his wanderings, and seems to always be able to fit just one more plant in, particularly if it’s got meaning. ‘My grandmother had a big staghorn in her fernery, so when Richard sent me a photo of another gorgeous one, we had to find a space for it. I already had two, but I needed to find a home for it.’

The garden is now two years old. ‘I can’t believe how much it’s grown! It’s surprisingly self-maintaining, though I do love pottering around in it,’ Sean says. His garden is a great example of the value of creating an oasis of green in the inner city.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Gardens

David Whitworth

An anecdotal guide to hiding your 'ghetto garden'.
Georgina Reid

Gardens

Owen Harris

A lush rooftop garden in inner city Fitzroy.

Gardens

The Bondi Garden Of Landscape Designer William Dangar

The well-known landscape designer's abundant Sydney garden - encased in lush foliage!
Georgina Reid

This Week

Architecture

A Contemporary Home Inspired By Heritage Architecture

Wolveridge Architecture balance contemporary design and art deco references, in Melbourne's Ascot Vale.

News

Your Favourite Ceramicists In One Group Show!

Shop works from Oh Hey Grace, Peta Armstrong, Rara Studio, Emma Gale and Mel Lumb in this group show at Nikau in Byron’s Art and Industria...
Sally Tabart
  13 hours ago

Studio Visit

The Miniature Boat Maker Working Out Of An Off-Grid Shipping Container

Meet Captain Elise Cameron Smith – ‘miniature boat maker and builder of dreams’!

Food

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Fragrant Roast Chicken With Mango Salad

Julia shares an innovative recipe to put all those delicious summer mangos to excellent use!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Dream Job

The Perks Of Being a Food Writer, According To One Of Australia’s Top Restaurant Critics!

Senior restaurant critic at The Age, Gemima Cody, shares what it's really like to be a food writer.

Stays

An 1853 Daylesford Homestead Turned Charming Holiday Rental

Theresa Albiloi and Tony De Marco have transformed an 1853 Daylesford house into the beautiful accomodation, The Station House.
Amelia Barnes
  16 hours ago

Shopping

Perfect Indoor Planters From The Plant Society And Capra Designs

A collaboration between The Plant Society and Capra Designs – we're loving these architecture-inspired planters!

Architecture

A Home That Completely Transforms With A Few Quick Switches

Designed as an artist's retreat using mostly recycled materials, The Sawmill House by Archier is a home for all seasons!

Architecture

Is This Australia's Answer to Palm Springs' Iconic Kaufmann House?

A seriously impressive home in Toowoomba, Queensland by Shaun Lockyer Architects, inspired by mid-century architecture.

Giveaway

Take Our Reader Survey and WIN One of Two Amazing Getaways!

WIN a luxurious stay + spa package at Halcyon House on the NSW north coast, or Lon Retreat in Point Lonsdale!
Lucy Feagins
  Less than an hour ago

News

Make Your Pledge To Protect The Bush

Independent not-for-profit Bush Heritage calls on the community to pledge their commitment to land and wildlife protection and conversation....
Sponsored

Homes

Living The Regional Dream In Strzelecki, South Gippsland!

Treechangers Shelley and Tom Banders share their charming home, surrounded by rolling hills in regional Victoria.

Art

10 Unmissable Art Exhibitions Of 2020

Calendars out! Our pick of not-to-be-missed art exhibitions for 2020, Australia wide.
Sally Tabart
  24 hours ago

Homes

A Beloved Family Home, Re-Built From The Ground Up

After a freak accident destroyed most of their Narre Warren North home, Sarah Woodhouse and Brad Nicholls designed a new and improved versio...

Similar Stories

Gardens

David Whitworth

An anecdotal guide to hiding your 'ghetto garden'.
Georgina Reid

Gardens

Owen Harris

A lush rooftop garden in inner city Fitzroy.

Gardens

The Bondi Garden Of Landscape Designer William Dangar

The well-known landscape designer's abundant Sydney garden - encased in lush foliage!
Georgina Reid